Weird Al Yankovic was born Alfred Matthew Yankovic in Downey, California, on October 23, 1959. His career in music began on the day before his sixth birthday, when a door-to-door salesman traveling through Lynwood offered his parents a choice of accordion or guitar lessons at a local music school. His parents chose accordion over guitar "because they were convinced it would revolutionize rock," according to the singer.
He continued lessons at the school for three years before continuing to learn on his own. Yankovic, who's a big fan of Elton John, said that John's "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" album was "partly how I learned to play rock 'n roll on the accordion." Meanwhile, he claimed that Tom Lehrer, Stan Freberg, Spike Jones, Allan Sherman, Shel Silverstein and Frank Zappa "and all the other wonderfully sick and twisted artists that he was exposed to through the Dr. Demento Radio Show" were the inspirations of his comedic and parody music.
Yankovic got his start in 1979, when he sent his "My Bologna" - a parody of the Knack's "My Sharona" - to Dr. Demento, a syndicated radio host specializing in novelty songs and curiosities. Recorded in a bathroom across the hall from his college radio station with only his accordion and vocal, the song was popular enough with Demento's audience for Capitol to release it as a single. After graduating in 1980, Yankovic did "Another One Rides the Bus", a parody of Queen's chart-topping "Another One Bites the Dust". Recorded live in Dr. Demento's studios, the song became an underground hit and Yankovic followed it up with "I Love Rocky Road", a satire of Joan Jett & the Blackhearts' "I Love Rock 'n Roll".
After hooking up with noted session guitarist and producer Rick Derringer, he was signed to Scotti Brothers which issued his debut LP "Weird Al Yankovic' in 1983. The album featured the song "Ricky", a tune inspired by Toni Basil's hit "Mickey" and the "I Love Lucy" television series. The song was issued as a single and it hit the Top 100 charts. Its accompanying video became a staple of the fledgling MTV network.
After Michael Jackson's "Beat It" became the most acclaimed video in the medium's brief history, Yankovic recorded "Eat It" for his sophomore effort, 1984's "In 3-D". The "Eat It" video, which mocked the "Beat It" clip scene-for-scene, became an MTV smash and the Grammy-winning single reached the Top 15.
In addition to "Eat It", "In 3-D" spawned minor hits "King of Suede" (a rewrite of the Police's "King of Pain") and "I Lost on Jeopardy" (a send-up of the Greg Kihn Band's "Jeopardy"). "Dare to Be Stupid", the first comedy record ever released in the new compact disc format, followed in 1985. It featured "Like a Surgeon", a takeoff of the Madonna's hit "Like a Virgin". Like its predecessor, "Dare to Be Stupid" went gold, but 1986's "Polka Party!" fared poorly and charted only briefly, prompting many to write off Yankovic's career.
However, in 1988, Yankovic returned with the platinum-selling "Even Worse". Its title and album cover referred to Jacko's "Bad" LP. "I'm Fat", the first single and video, also parodied the lavish Martin Scorsese-directed clip for Jackson's hit "Bad". Shot on the same subway set used by Jackson, the video which portrayed Yankovic as a grotesquely obese tough guy won him his second Grammy. The next year, he starred in the feature film "UHF", which he also co-wrote.
After an extended period of silence, he returned in 1992 with "Off the Deep End", which featured the Top 40 hit "Smells Like Nirvana", a send-up of Nirvana's hit single "Smells Like Teen Spirit". After 1993's "Alapalooza", he resurfaced in 1996 with "Bad Hair Day", his highest-charting record to date thanks to the success of the single "Amish Paradise" which is a takeoff of the Coolio hit "Gangsta's Paradise". Its follow-up, "Running with Scissors", appeared in 1999 and "Poodle Hat" landed in 2003. "Straight Outta Lynwood" came in 2006 with the single "White & Nerdy", a suburban parody of Chamillionaire's hit "Ridin". Yankovic's 13th studio album, 2011's "Alpocalypse", skewered the likes of Lady Gaga ("Perform This Way") and Miley Cyrus ("Party in the CIA").
In 2014, he returned with "Mandatory Fun" for which he made and released eight videos via various sites like The Wall Street Journal, Yahoo, Nerdist, College Humor and YouTube. Among those videos are parodies of Pharrell Williams' "Happy", Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines", Lorde's "Royals" and Iggy Azalea's "Fancy". The album becomes his first LP to land at No. 1 on Billboard 200 after opening with 104,000 copies.
Upon its release, Yankovic announced that the album would be his last. However, he insisted that he hadn't given up on music yet. "I'm more of a singles artist," Yankovic explained. "If I had to guess I'd say that going forward I'd just release singles digitally. I'd still do videos for them. I don't know that the album is the most efficient way to release music, especially comedic works."